The Little Blitz

After the very heavy air raids between September 1940 and May 1941, London enjoyed a period of relative
calm. There was one heavy raid 27th /28th July 1941 which resulted in 85 fatalities when 3 Air Raid
Shelters  were hit in Poplar. During 1942 enemy action in the London area was much reduced as can be
seen by the fatalities for the year which were 27. During 1943 the toll increased again due to the 'hit and
run' or 'scalded cat' raids by single fighter bombers., resulting in 542 fatalities. The worst incidents were on
20th January 1943 when 44 Children and teachers died at Sandhurst Road school in Catford and then on
7th November when 81 young people were killed at the Cinderella Dance Hall in Putney. Starting in January
1944 and lasting until May 'Operation Steinbock' saw a renewed and intense Nazi attack on the capital
which has been termed the 'Baby Blitz or’ Little Blitz'. This was launched as a response to the heavy allied
raids on Berlin. In the excellent 'The Little Blitz' by John Conen the author makes the point that this Blitz on
London has been underreported and underestimated . He suggests this is due to the need for moral to be
boosted at that time in the war but also because the attacks were overshadowed by the later V1 and V2
campaign. About 1500 people died, which was much lower than the totals endured in the Germans cities at
the time. However, there was great suffering and also significant damage to housing and public buildings.
The bombs dropped in raids were often predominantly incendiaries but where HE bombs were used these
were frequently land mines or other very powerful weapons, causing devastating destruction.  The
Incendiary attacks caused serious fires which at times almost reached fire storm proportions. Unusually
compared with the Blitz or V Weapons attacks South West and West London suffered very badly. In terms
of fatalities the worst hit borough was Fulham where 130 people died. but South East London also suffered
heavy raids with incidents across the rest of the capital. The Worst disaster was at the Guinness Buildings in
the Kings Road Chelsea where 59 died on the 23rd February 1944